Saturday, January 31, 2009

Aaaaah-shoe! Bless you.

Unveiled in Tikrit, and hurriedly/embarrassedly removed by authorities—a giant-sized model of the shoe of a certain journalist, thrown at a certain ex-President. Well-thrown...and well-dodged. ’Nuff said.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Rabbit at Rest, 1932-2009

Sad to find out that John Updike died on Tuesday. I’m remembering seeing him speak at the Nashville Public Library in November of 2006, when the NPL gave Updike their Literary Award.

I don’t know if he knew lung cancer was taking him then, if he did, it didn’t show. What a lovely man, a writer who lived to write and wrote for readers. Seemed to often have the certain kind of smile on his face of a man laughing at his own joke. New Yorker cartoonist extraordinaire George Booth struck me much the same way, when I met him as a grad student in the mid-80s—showing panel after panel and breathlessly chuckling to himself, much the way you would expect one of his classic cartoon dogs to laugh.

Read his NY Times obit here. Don’t miss the “Conversation With John Updike” video segment.

Updike wrote more than 50 books, won two Pulitzers, and two National Book Awards. But after all these years—publishing his first story with them in 1955—he was still writing book reviews and short stories for the New Yorker, one of the things in which I think he took the most pride.

“I would write ads for deodorants or labels for catsup bottles, if I had to,” he told The Paris Review in 1967. “The miracle of turning inklings into thoughts and thoughts into words and words into metal and print and ink never palls for me.”

Monday, January 26, 2009

Things we like: Kane Welch Kaplin

Went and saw Nashville friends Kane Welch Kaplin over at Southeastern Illinois College yesterday. They were at their usual understated, brilliant best. Hadn’t seen Kieran in a month of Sundays. Fats and Kristi are around here some, because they have a house over in Southern Illinois somewhere. Good little venue, if you ever find yourself in that part of the state, in need of some entertaining.

Catch ’em if you can! (Although they’re headed to Australia for over a month soon, but tell all your kangaroo friends) Tour info etc on the boys (and Mike Henderson, Tammy Rogers and others) at

The records are all MIGHTY fine and available through most of the usual outlets for music purchase. The new one is even on eMusic, which has been my choice for music for the last few years.

Fats (and Kristi!) have their own fine swag available on their site I got a copy of Fats’ Hatch Showprint-printed solo record “The Fatman Cometh” at the show. Apparently not many left!

OK, so I find the term “supergroup” in general a bit—what is it I’m looking for, supercilious?—but here’s a nice blurp from the Irish press:
“In those three surnames there lies a serious bundle of talent. Kieran Kane is among the greatest living minimalists in Americana music, Kevin Welch is a master of the story song, and Fats Kaplin is the kind of sensitive multi-instrumentalist of whom songwriters dream. Ah yes, a supergroup.”
The Irish Times

PS—Fats has an excellent new album I got at the show called FATS KAPLIN’S WORLD OF WONDER. I think he just made a limited quantity to take to Australia, but track it down through his website. I hadn’t listened to it yesterday when I wrote the rest of this. Damn, it’s tasty!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

When doody calls...

Wow, talk about yer sublime to the ridiculous. Last post about the inauguration, hope for the future, etc. This I found looking for something else entirely unrelated (I promise) on

I’m not making this up...the “When doody calls poop costume” is offered here, for a mere $59.99! In case you are one of the multitudes who has wondered how you could successfully dress as a human-sized turd this next halloween.

Can’t say I’ve ever come close to even THINKING about dressing as a turd for Halloween, but you know, it takes a lot of people to make a village...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

High office at a low moment.

A few of my favorite things from the inauguration (other than the simple fact of inaugurating a President I can be proud of):

Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman and company, performing a John Williams piece that found Williams being his best Aaron Copland.

The Queen of Soul and her Magical Giant Bowed Hat.

Dr. Joseph Lowery’s benediction (in its entirety here). After the man helped co-lead the Montgomery bus boycott, after he led the Selma March at King’s request, after working close to the dreams of Dr. King then watching him be gunned down. The man still has crystal perspective and an astonishing sense of humor about him. May the red man get ahead, man...

The attendance of 105 year old Clevelander, Ella Mae Johnson, whose sentiment about Obama I share: “My hope for him is my hope for the country. If he fails, the country fails.” She was at Fisk in the 1920s when W.E.B DuBois spoke there. She got her masters in social work in 1929 from what is now Case Western, but couldn’t live on the campus because of her race. Good NPR story on her here.

After much past—and continuing—darkness (no pun intended) about race in this country, I believe that it says a great thing about us all that a man whose family’s racial mix would have resulted in a hard time being seated in restaurants or housed in hotels in this country around the time when he was born, has grown up to be elected—in a landslide—the 44th President of these United States.

God bless him in the enormous task ahead. And may we all be encouraged to pitch in and shout out, rather than standing back and watching feeling dumbstruck and powerless as we have much of the last eight years. Could we ever believe in a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people” again? Let’s hope the fact that Obama accepted his party’s nomination in Springfield, Illinois and was sworn in using the very bible that Abraham Lincoln was sworn in with 147 year ago will be far more than empty symbolism.

Let’s hope!

Monday, January 19, 2009

R.I.P. Number Six.

Patrick McGoohan, co-creator and star of the great 60s cult TV classic THE PRISONER, dead in Los Angeles at 80.

Film critic David Thomson (from a NPR Morning Edition piece here):

“It was an extraordinary show, which I think led the showing just how powerful, how profound a TV series could be. I think it’s still breathtaking,” Thomson says. “It’s as if James Bond material had been given to Harold Pinter to write, to some extraordinary, surreal designer to design and Hitchcock to direct.”

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Four Stooges.

Stooges guitarist Scott Asheton was found dead in his house today, of apparent natural causes at 60. I guess there are two of the original Stooges left. Iggy and Ron’s brother, Scott. Seems like the bass player died a few years back, can’t remember his name.

Says something funny about the median age of the NPR listener that they played a snippet of “Search and Destroy” as the piece faded smoothly into some kind of Prudential retirement ad. American punk rawk moves into the elder hostel.